IBM’s new HR chief reveals the strategy she uses to determine which employees can do their jobs from home

IBM CHRO Nickle LaMoreaux

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Nickle LaMoreaux became IBM’s HR chief smack in the middle of a global pandemic.

After 20 years climbing the ranks at IBM, LaMoreaux was promoted to chief human resources officer in September. A few months in, she’s considering what the pandemic has taught her about the future of work. More specifically: Is the hybrid work model, with some people in the office and some people remote, sustainable?

When we spoke by phone in February, LaMoreaux was in IBM’s Armonk, New York, office, along with a select group of colleagues. Most of IBM’s staff was still working from home. (IBM has employees all over the world.)

“We believe in the hybrid work model,” LaMoreaux said. Certain work activities don’t need to happen in an office; others do. The challenging bit, LaMoreaux said, is striking the right balance. When IBM surveyed its employees in mid-2020, most said they wanted a hybrid environment, meaning they’d come into the office just a couple days a week.

That’s similar to what other research has found. The National Association for Business Economics found that only about one in 10 of the 97 employers they surveyed expect all their employees to go back to the office post-pandemic. A Slack survey of roughly 9,000 knowledge workers found that 72% would prefer a combination of remote and in-office work. Just 12% of respondents said they planned to go back to working in an office full-time.

Already, tech giants like Salesforce and Spotify have announced that employees have the option to work remotely full-time.

With all this in mind, LaMoreaux has started “dissecting” work, trying to figure out exactly which tasks can be done remotely and which probably can’t. It comes down to three questions, she said: What is best done in the office? For whom? And how often?

IBM is deconstructing the workday

A bit of history: IBM was a leader in the remote-work movement. Then, in 2017, the company changed course and told those who were doing their jobs from home that they could either return to the office or find a job elsewhere.

LaMoreaux clarified that, at the time, some jobs that were completely remote were moved back to the office, and that less than 2% of IBM employees were affected. The decision was part of the company’s move to agile software development, LaMoreaux added. Cross-disciplinary teams were working together on specific problems, and IBM felt it was better for those teams to be colocated.

Now, LaMoreaux is looking at flexible work in the context of those three questions (what is best done in the office, for whom, and how often). Thinking this way requires shifting the focus from activities, she said, to outcomes. IBM needs to “break down work into the specific activities,” she said, “and determine the optimal place for those activities to [happen] based on the outcome that we’re driving.”

LaMoreaux explained how she does that using her favorite example: a team reviewing its sales process to spot inefficiencies.

Few IBM employees will need to be in …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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